Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dutch laws soon to enter cyber space

One of the oldest daily papers in The Netherlands, Staatscourant, will cease to be published on paper by the end of the year. The newspaper for the government has been published eversince on week days, but not in the weekend, and was used bu the government to publish laws, measures and appointments. Only when laws and measures have been published in the Staatscourant, the law was in effect. Even recently a minister thought he could abolish a grant measure overnight, but had torecall his measure as it had not been published in the Staatscourant.

The newspaper circulation has been going down steadily and in the last seven years the circulation has halved: from 13.000 copies in 1999 to 6.000 copies in 2006. The real blow came, when in 2005 the ministry of Economic Affairs decided that companies were not obliged to advertise the depositing of their annual accounts at the Chambers of Commerce. The annual revenues of these ads totalled 12,5 million euro.

But before the newspaper will cease its paper edition, the government will have to pass a law, naming internet as the publishing medium for the government. No law will come into effect without being published on Internet. Presently there is already a site with all the Dutch laws into effect, which is being maintained by the publisher of the Staatscourant. But this site does not have any legal force at present. The move to internet is seen as a democratic move, making the law process accessible for everyone through Internet. Presently the newspaper subscription costs 335 euro annually.

The newspaper editors had seen the drop coming and had attempted to make the newspaper more interesting with background stories and interviews. In the internet edition they would also like to have background stories, interviews and reports, but the new law for publishing laws and measures on the internet does not allow any news and other items nor ads. On the internetsite only laws will be published.

The Staatscourant was founded in 1814, when king William I ordered the publication for laws. Now after almost 200 years the newspaper will disappear and make way for Internet.

Blog Posting Number: 640

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